Thanks to some great detective work by wccftech, we know that a serious problem in iOS 13.1.3 is causing the new Ultra Wideband U1 chip in the iPhone 11 series to fail. Moreover, some units cannot be repaired and owners are reporting that Apple had to replace their phones.
What affected users are seeing shortly after updating is a pop-up warning: “Ultra Wideband Update Failed. Your iPhone cannot use Ultrawide band until it has been updated.” Apple has tacitly implied some level of scale because it has setup a dedicated support page making a similar recommendation. But both messages contain a level of duplicity because no publicly available update exists beyond iOS 13.1.3 and the latest beta of iOS 13.2 not only fails to fix the problem, it is actively causing it for some:
“I’m getting it too on [iOS] 13.2b3” – source
“Also getting error message: “ULTRA WIDEBAND UPDATE FAILED”. Had this with iOS 13.2 public beta 2, and today I still have it after updating to public beta 3. Is it a software issue, or is my phone hardware broken?” – source
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Furthermore, those who have taken their iPhones to an Apple Store have seen Apple identify the problem as a hardware issue which a) is an extreme consequence from a software update, and b) not something that could not be fixed with software.
“I had to go to the Apple store and they did the diagnostics and confirmed it was hardware issue and was replaced with a new device.” – source
“I had sent the phone logs to them, it was escalated and reviewed and turns out that it was a hardware failure (I do not have the details) but since it is a new phone, [I’m] getting it swapped out for a new phone” – source
“My 11 Pro Max had it too. AirDrop would not work to send, but could receive. Reset and setup as new failed to resolve issue. Visited Apple Store yesterday and did return/replace.” – source
“Same here. Just did the update to 13.1.3 and got this error for the first time. Guess I’ll be taking a trip to the store tomorrow.” – source
“Got this same message after the 13.1.3 update last night. Behaves like a software issue to me. All these people having the same hardware failure after the iOS 13 updates? Weird.” – source
Equally weird are isolated reports from some users who experienced it prior to iOS 13.1.3. Given the increase in reports, are new iOS 13 updates actually making this worse? The good news is a DFU restore has done the trick for a handful of users though, with Apple actively replacing handsets, clearly not all.
I have reached out to Apple for more information and will update this post when/if I get a reply.
What is the U1 UItra Wideband Chip?
If you haven’t heard of the U1 chip before, it enables extremely precise location data (within a few centimetres) to be shared between iPhone 11 series phones. At present, only AirDrop has taken advantage of it to enable file transfers just by pointing iPhones at one another. The tech has been deemed creepy by some, but Apple has promised “amazing new capabilities” will follow.
So yes, this is something Apple needs to get on top of, and fast.
In the meantime, those of you using older iPhones may feel like you dodged a bullet. And – with Apple planning an “all-new form factor design” for the iPhone in 2020 as well as 5G for every model, long-range 3D cameras, new screen sizes, 120Hz ProMotion displays and the long-awaited switch to USB-C – the truth is you probably have.